Whine and Dine Me, Mr. Stern
By Derek X. Garcia '13, Staff Writer
What a busy two weeks it’s been in the wide world of sports. The Ryder Cup got snatched up by the Europeans, LT is playing like he is back in 2006 and Champions League soccer has been entertaining. However, despite being under the radar, one of the biggest pieces of sports news revealed in the past two weeks is the new NBA rule change concerning technical fouls.

Now, don’t get me wrong, most of the time when I’m watching sports, I like to side with the referees (as long as they don’t penalize my team, of course). Along with groundskeepers, I think that referees have the toughest job in all of sports, excluding the players. In addition to dealing with the inherent pressures of the job, they also are in charge of keeping the peace and making tough calls. However, when I read the details about the new NBA rule change about what constitutes a technical foul, I couldn’t believe it. Rules are made to help the refs with tough calls and to negate debate about whether a play is legal or not. In other words, its supposed to streamline penalties, not obfuscate them.

I mean, really, David Stern, “overt gestures, air-punches, arm raising and flailing arms in disbelief,” are enough to merit a technical foul? Really? What will become of my beloved Kobe flails?

I’m sorry, David Stern, but do you want the players to play like robots? Why would you include normal and expected reactions and emotions to calls that happen in a game to define a technical? What player would stand idly by when he thinks he, or his teammate, has been wronged? None. This rule change is going to create a lot of fuss this season because, should the refs truly take this to heart, the tech’s will be flying.

It’s a good thing Rasheed retired last season, cause he probably would have been thrown out every night (Or maybe he just had the foresight to see this coming). But to be fair, let me name some players who have done (and will do) some of the things mentioned in the criteria above, and earn themselves technical fouls: Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant. Do I need to continue?

Crybabies are only entertaining to a certain point, but there are undoubtedly times when a referee becomes part of the fracas rather than simply rising above the fray. Everybody affiliated with the NBA is only human, after all. The referees run just as hard as the players each night, so emotions are high all around. And that’s just during the regular season — imagine how wired everybody is during the playoffs?

But it’s not like whining has ever changed a call anyway. The players continue playing despite the fact that they are ticked off about a bad penalty. It would be nice if the conversation went something like: “You know what Mr. Shaq, you did not foul Mr. ’Melo when he drove. I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. Call reversed.”

But it never happens and it never will. The refs know that what they say goes, so why complain, you ask? For the same reason that “superstar” fouls get called, Kobe hits game-winning shots after pushing off and Dwyane Wade sneaks in his carries: the referees are not objective. In pretending to be, they make the best out of the situation they’re put in. But in the same way that breathing room exists between what happened and what got called, the players need breathing room to vent.

But wait a minute, Derek, why do the refs have to take all this during a game, why do they have to suffer? Why? Because they are paid for it and know that a player is not going to hold a grudge against them because of what he believes is a bad call (as opposed to the flipside of that, which Tim Donaghy has proven was true). You are always going to find someone who is not happy with the calls because you can’t make both teams happy. I can imagine how frustrating it must get for the refs during the games but the calls are set in stone once they’re made. Their reactions are moot. So why penalize players for their heightened emotions in a farce?

The players are now the ones in the defenseless position because now the refs can kick them out anytime they think an “air-punch” is too forceful. This broadened definition is completely up to the whim of the ref. If he actually doesn’t like a guy, he can legally call a “T” in an attempt to get him out of the game. This is where the debate and controversy enters the game. Sooner or later we’ll see debates along the lines of: “Was that really enough? All Kobe did was make a face…”

Like I mentioned earlier, this broadened definition will just obfuscate the game and cause needless controversy. Even before this happened, refs could still call T’s when they thought players disrespected them. Anyone remember ’Sheed during the 2000 Western Conference Finals, or Tim Duncan vs. the Mavs in ’07 (Concerning the latter, Stern suspended Joe Crawford, who called the foul against Duncan, for the rest of the season.)? What does that tell you?

In order for me to meet my word quota and the fact that, until told otherwise, I’ll assume some of y’all enjoyed it last week, I bring you another edition of “Third-Down Description:”

Jets vs. Bills, 38-14: LT from 2006.

Browns vs. Bengals, 23-20: The Browns won?

Ravens vs. Steelers, 17-14: Joe Cool reincarnated.

Broncos vs. Titans, 26-20: Orton saves Broncos.

Texans vs. Raiders, 31-24: Don’t bench Foster.

Rams vs. Seahawks, 20-3: The Rams won?

Packers vs. Lions, 28-26: Megatron almost wins.

Falcons vs. 49ers, 16-14: Bryant wins it.

Jaguars vs. Colts, 31-28: The Jags won? (Okay, I’ll stop.)

Redskins vs. Eagles, 17-12: McNabb gets revenge.

Saints vs. Panthers, 16-14: Breesus saves again.

Chargers vs. Cards, 41-10: Still regretting Leinart.

Giants vs. Bears, 17-3: Giants sack Bears.

Patriots vs. Dolphins, 41-14: Wang Chung tonight.

Issue 05, Submitted 2010-10-06 04:10:01